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The Importance of Determination Essay

Everyday people face challenges, but it is important that one does not give up, and to keep trying until they successfully overcome the obstacles that stand in their way. “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes and “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou are two different works written by two different authors yet they both convey the same message. Together, the two authors stress the significance of pushing harder when faced with conflicts rather than simply giving up. Using figurative language and repetition, Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou effectively emphasize this message in both of their poems.

In both poems, both authors attempt to convince the reader of the importance of not giving up and trying harder, and do so successfully. In “Mother to Son”, Langston Hughes is able to open the eyes and the mind of the reader by comparing the narrator’s difficult life to an object that is elegant, clear and simple. At the beginning and end of the poem Hughes’ writes, “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.” (Hughes 2, 20). Using the crystal stair as a symbol of clarity, Hughes’ is implying that life for the narrator is not clear and is not elegant, nor simple. He establishes the struggle in the narrator’s life and compares it to the crystal stair all while subliminally hinting that one must not back down from difficult courses in one’s life because no one’s life is a “crystal stair”.

Much like the previous metaphor, Hughes’ highlights the importance of determination through another metaphor. He expresses, “It’s had tacks in it / And splinters / And boards torn up / And places with no carpet on the floor” (3-6). This metaphor is comparing life to a rough, bare and hard floor that has been through a lot. The use of this metaphor illustrates the image of a life that has been through a lot, but yet continues to persevere and manage through all the problems. In the same fashion as Hughes, poet Maya Angelou has used similar figurative language in her piece “Still I Rise”.

It is important to note that similarly to the use of metaphors in “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes; Maya Angelou makes a point to emphasize the same importance of pushing harder when faced with conflicts rather than simply giving up by using similes. Angelou writes, “You may trod me in the very dirt / But still, like dust, I’ll rise.” (Angelou, 3-4). Angelou compares triumph after a challenge in life being similar to that of dust rising after dirt has been trotted on, thus proving that just as important as it was for the dust to rise after the dirt, it is equally as important to rise after being faced with a challenge in life.

Identically to the previous quotation, Angelou again expresses the importance of determination by writing, “Just like moons and like suns / With the certainty of tides / Just like hopes springing high / Still I’ll rise.” (9-12). Angelou effectively compares the sure rising of moons and suns rising with the certainty of tides, and the guaranteed rise of hopes to her own certainty to rise. Her persistence to continue to rise after being put through many evident hardships demonstrates the importance of pushing harder when encountering difficulties rather than quitting when things get hard. All things considered, both poets are able to successfully interpret the importance of pushing harder when faced with conflicts rather than simply giving up by using figurative language such as metaphors and similes.

Equally as significant as the use of figurative language in both Langston Hughes’ poem, and Maya Angelou’s poem, is the use of repetition.  Though individually the poems may seem different, together the two poets commendably integrate and are able to convey the significance of persistence when one finds themselves in difficult situations in life. In the final analysis, using literary devices such as figurative language and repetition have assisted the two poets in emphasizing their message. It is important that one must not simply tolerate the troubling things they are faced with in life, but rather overcome them.


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